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Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine

Last modified: 2023-09-16 by martin karner
Keywords: ukraine | territorial defense |
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Territorial Defense Battalions

Territorial defence battalions, TerrDefB (Батальйо́ни територа́льної оборо́ни, БТрО), were volunteer military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under the auspices of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence in 2014–2015. They should not be confused with the volunteer units of the Special Task Patrol Service of Ukraine (Патрульна служба особливого призначення), which were created along with territorial defense battalions, but under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior. The battalions were established in mid-2014, during the early stages of the war in Donbas, to combat the pro-Russian separatists and the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic, Luhansk People's Republic, and the United Armed Forces of "Novorossiya" (which translates as New Russia), the armed forces of the
(formally called) Federal State of Novorossiya, being a proposed Confederation of unrecognized states constituted by both, the Donetsk Republic and the Luhansk Republic, declared on May 22, 2014 and suspended on May 20, 2015. It claims to trace on the historical term of the Russian Empire denoting a region north of the Black Sea (now part of Ukraine). In Ukraine the territory was better known as Stepovyna (Steppeland) or Nyz (Lower land). 32 (although other sources mention 43, 44 and even 46) volunteer territorial defence battalions were formed:

1st Territorial Defence Battalion "Volyn" (Volyn Oblast)
2nd Territorial Defence Battalion "Horyn" (Rivne Oblast)
3rd Territorial Defence Battalion "Volya" (Lviv Oblast)
4th Territorial Defence Battalion "Zakarpattia" (Zakarpattia Oblast)
5th Territorial Defence Battalion "Prykarpattya" (Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, disbanded in January 2015)
6th Territorial Defence Battalion "Zbruch" (Ternopil Oblast)
7th Territorial Defence Battalion (Khmelnytskyi Oblast)[29]
8th Territorial Defence Battalion (Chernivtsi Oblast)
9th Territorial Defence Battalion "Vinnytsia" (Vinnytsia Oblast)
10th Territorial Defence Battalion "Polesia" (Zhytomyr Oblast)
11th Territorial Defence Battalion "Kyivan Rus" (Kyiv Oblast)
12th Territorial Defence Battalion "Kyiv" (Kyiv city)
13th Territorial Defence Battalion "Chernihiv-1" (Chernihiv Oblast)
14th Territorial Defence Battalion "Cherkasy" (Cherkasy Oblast)
15th Territorial Defence Battalion "Sumy" (Sumy Oblast)
16th Territorial Defence Battalion "Poltava" (Poltava Oblast)
17th Territorial Defence Battalion "Kirovohrad" (Kirovohrad Oblast)
18th Territorial Defence Battalion "Odesa" (Odessa Oblast)
19th Territorial Defence Battalion (Mykolaiv Oblast)
20th Territorial Defence Battalion "Dnipro" (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast)
21st Territorial Defence Battalion "Sarmat" (Kherson Oblast)
22nd Territorial Defence Battalion "Kharkiv" (Kharkiv Oblast)
23rd Territorial Defence Battalion "Khortytsia" (Zaporizhia Oblast)
24th Territorial Defence Battalion "Aidar" (Luhansk Oblast)
25th Territorial Defence Battalion "Kyivan Rus" (Kyiv Oblast)
34th Territorial Defence Battalion "Batkivshchyna" (Kirovohrad Oblast)
37th Territorial Defence Battalion (Zaporizhia Oblast)
39th Territorial Defence Battalion "Dnipro-2" (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast)
40th Territorial Defence Battalion "Kryvbas" (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast)
41st Territorial Defence Battalion "Chernihiv-2" (Chernihiv Oblast)
42nd Territorial Defence Battalion "Rukh Oporu" (Kirovohrad Oblast)
43rd Territorial Defence Battalion "Patriot" (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast)
*44th was not possible to establish due to lack of legal foundation
*45th Detached Motorized Infantry Battalion was transformed into the 5th Air Defense Battalion, of the Air Force
*46th Separate Assault Battalion "Donbas" is currently part of the 2nd Battalion of Special Assignment "Donbas", unit of the National Guard of Ukraine subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In autumn 2014 most of the territorial defence battalions were reorganized as motorized infantry battalions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


Independent formations (Незалежні формування) (including four reformed independent formations):

  • Aerial reconnaissance (Аеророзвідка)
  • Bat. in memoriam Dzhokhar Dudayev (Бат. ім. Джохара Дудаєва)
  • Bat. in memoriam Noman Chelebidzhikhan (Бат. ім. Номана Челебіджіхана)
  • Bat. in memoriam Sheikh Mansour (Бат. ім. Шейха Мансура)
  • Kyiv Cossack Regiment named in memoriam T. Shevchenko (Київський козацький полк ім. Т. Шевченка)
  • "Sarmat" Division (Підрозділ "Сармат)
  • Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (Добровольчий український корпус)
  • Pechers'k (Печерськ)
  • "Pursuit" Detachment (Загін "Погоня)
  • Public formation "North" (Громадське формування "Сєвєр") formally Public formation for the protection of public order and the state border "North", simply known as Battalion "North" (батальйон "Сєвєр)
  • Tactical Group "Belarus" (Тактична група Білорусь)
  • Ukrainian Volunteer Army. UVA, 5th and 8th "Aratta" independent battalions (Українська добровольча армія, УДА 5 ОБ (окремий батальйон) 8 ОБ (окремий батальйон) Аратта)
  • "Black Fog" (Чорний туман)
  • Jewish company (Єврейська рота)
  • Wolf (Вольф)
  • Separate infantry detachment "Volyn" (Окремий легкопіхотний загін "Волинь)
  • Medical Battalion "Hospitallers" (Медичний батальйон "Госпітальєри)

    Reformed independent formations:
  • Georgian National Legion (Грузинський національний легіон), which became part of the 25th Detached Motorized Infantry Battalion "Kyivska Rus" of the Ukrainian Army, which became part of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade "Cold Yar" of the Ukrainian Army
  • Separate combined assault company "Carpathian Sich" (Окрема зведена штурмова рота "Карпатська Січ"), first established as Separate volunteer group "Carpathian Sich", which was a subgroup of the 24th Separate Assault Battalion "Aidar" of the Ukrainian Army
  • Cold Yar (battle detachment) (Холодний Яр (бойовий загін))
  • OUN Battalion, also known as Combined Battalion of the Territorial Defense of the City of Nizhyn (Батальйон "ОУН" Зведений батальйон територіальної оборони міста Ніжин)

    Esteban Rivera, 28 February 2022

    Territorial defence battalions emerged almost spontaneously out of already existing political parties and/or groups, as "armed factions" (also known as militias in Western sources). For instance, the Right Sector political party (not featured on FOTW-ws yet) which spawned the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, or the Azov Battalion, which emerged out of the Patriot of Ukraine. If you look at these political groups, most of them are considered ultra-right (hence neonazi) and that is why it is labeled by Russian media as Ukrainian Nazis. However, since most of these military units have been incorporated into the Territorial Defence Forces, they are no longer under control of their former political parties. So, the Territorial defence battalions (2014–2015) were then transformed into the Territorial Defence Forces (de facto since 2015, de iure since 2022).
    Esteban Rivera, 1 March 2023 (by e-mail)

    Now, in the current armed conflict, which escalated into a military campaign on February 24, 2022, there have been new military formations activated, under the Territorial Defence Forces (Війська територіальної оборони), which are the military reserve component of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These Defense Forces are composed of Battalions (hence the term "Territorial defence battalions") and have been active since 2014 as well. Additionally, new militias (outside this hierarchy) are also starting to appear and be called "territorial defense units", since they have not yet achieved battalion size status, that is: composed of 300 to 1000 personnel. Most likely, these new militias will either be incorporated to the already existing battalions or form new ones. The latest legal steps towards reactivation and reorganization of these military formations were taken on May 25, 2021 when the President passed a Bill to Parliament called "On the foundation of national resistance", approved on July 16, 2021 and signed into Law on July 29 by the President. It was further amended on January 1, 2022 (other sources mention January 27). On Section I General Dispositions, Article 1 Basic Terms definitions, item 15, they are formally labeled as "Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine", meaning a separate paramilitary force that acts in coordination with the existing Armed Forces. The new voluntary units are authorized by Resolution № 1449 of December 29, 2021 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, in which the Regulations on voluntary formations of territorial communities is approved. They are known as "ТрО" (English: TerrDef), "тероборона" (English: Defense), ТрОЗСУ (Romanized: "Sprotyv") (English: TerrDef ZSU), ЗСУ Romanized as ZSU, standing for Zbroini Syly Ukrainy, Armed Forces of Ukraine) and "ТериторіальнаОборона ЗСУ", (English: Territorial Defense ZSU).

    Source: and

    For additional information go to Sprotyv (official website)
    Esteban Rivera, 28 February 2022

    130th Territorial Defense Battalion

    [130th TDB flag] image located by Zachary Harden, 8 May 2023
    (source, picture)

    The English subtitles in the source-video (scroll down) allude that this flag is that of the Ukrainian 130th Territorial Defense Battalion during the recapture of Hoptivka, September 2022.
    William Garrison, 8 May 2023

    Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade

    [Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade flag] image located by William Garrison, 19 June 2022

    The 58 ОМПБр (Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade, IMIB) is a brigade size military Unit which was incorporated into the Ukrainian Army Land Forces encompassing originally three Territorial Defense Battalions :
         – 13th Territorial Defence Battalion " Chernihiv-1" (Chernihiv Oblast) (13 окремий мотопіхотний батальйон (смт. Вороніж).
         – 15th Territorial Defence Battalion "Sumy" (Sumy Oblast) (15 окремий мотопіхотний батальйон).
         – 16th Territorial Defence Battalion "Poltava" (Poltava Oblast) (16 окремий мотопіхотний батальйон).
    It was established on February 17, 2015 (even though its founding Units were established earlier) and took active part in the War in Donbass (2014-2015 and current conflict) as part of the "Оперативне командування «Північ»" (Operational Command "North") (official website ).
    Sources: Memorybook, source #2, source #3 and source #4.

    The flag in question has the same color composition background as that of Ukraine, that is: blue on top and yellow on bottom.
    To the left it features the patch insignia, having a shield with silver outline, divided in the middle vertically by two equal stripes, left in red and right in blue, superimposed by the monogram "TW" in black capitals, with the motto on top in Latin SIMUL AD VICTORIAM (together for victory).
    To the right, on the blue stripe, it features the name of the Unit: 58 ОМПБр 958th IMIB0 імені гетьмана = in memoriam Hetman Івана Виговського = Ivan Vyhovsky

    [insignia]  [insignia] [insignia]

    Below, on the yellow stripe, towards the fly, it features the three coats of arms (patch insignia) of the founding Units mentioned above (13-й, 15-й and 16-й) and below that, the same motto, this time in Ukrainian "Разом до перемоги!" (Together to victory!) (picture).
    Notice that the images of the coats of arms may have slight variations when referring to the flag sent since they either evolved when incorporated from being volunteer Units to standing military formations and/or readjusted according to task):
    – #44a is the coat of arms of the 13th Territorial Defence Battalion "Chernihiv-1".
    – #44b is the coat of arms of 15th Territorial Defence Battalion "Sumy".
    – #44b is the coat of arms of 16th Territorial Defence Battalion "Poltava".

    Esteban Rivera, 21 June 2022

    128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade

    image located by William Garrison, Martin Karner
    (source, source, picture)

    Flag of the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade (128 Окрема Гірсько-Штурмова Закарпатська Бригада). This is confirmed by a Twitter message presented by Youtuber Jake Broe in the newest of his analysis videos (see beginning of the video, the unit called there 128th Jaeger Brigade – perhaps an inaccurate translation, perhaps a self-designated short version (still image from video. The right flag is from the 2nd Separate Rifle Battalion).
    Martin Karner, 20/21 June 2023

    2nd Separate Rifle Battalion

    image located by William Garrison, 20 June 2023

    This flag belongs to 2nd Separate Rifle Battalion (2-й окремий стрілецький батальйон) (source).
    Zachary Harden, 21 June 2023

    [still image from video, see 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade above]

    247th Separate Battalion (127th Kharkiv City Defense Brigade)

    still image from video located by William Garrison, 20 June 2023
    (source: Youtube)

    Flag of the 127th Kharkiv City Defense Brigade, Territorial Defense Forces. The 247 seen in the badge (not the black text) refers to the 247th separate battalion that is a part of this brigade.
    The text reads "For the defense of Slobozhanshchyna 24/7" with that area is referring to
    Zachary Harden, 25 June 2023

    Aidar Battalion

    [Aidar Battalion flag] image located by William Garrison

    caption: A black-field flag with white slogans & logo, allegedly used by the Ukraine Aidar Bn.; c. March 2022.
    William Garrison, 29 March 2022

    The inscriptions make parts of a single motto: "Freedom of Ukraine or death".
    The emblem is a variation of the 1918–1921 arms of Ukraine which has had several variations during the time of its use:
    Tomislav Todorovic, 29 March 2022

    This Unit is listed as 24th Territorial Defence Battalion "Aidar" (Ukrainian: 24-й батальйон територіальної оборони Айдар).

    "At the end of April 2014, during the Revolution of Dignity (Революції Гідності) (November 30, 2013 – February 23, 2014), the commander of the Maidan Self Defense delegated on the commander of the 28th Hundred, "Сотня", romanized sotnia or sotnya, "hundred" is a military term of Slavic origin, which was also a territorial subdivision used in Ukraine in the times of the Cossack Hetmanate to establish a military unit in the Luhansk Oblast. The word, which literally means "hundred", in this context refers to a military unit of about 75–150 persons. In modern military language it is the equivalent to a company-size military formation.

    On May 1st, the creation of the Battalion was approved and on May 3rd, 2014 the Minister of Defence issued an Order formally establishing Battalion No. 165 which later was named "Aidar".

    It is important to highlight the fact that this was the first Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine – a volunteer military detachment subordinate to the Ministry of Defence. Furthermore, this unit represents and started the evolution from civilian Maidan Self Defense (militias) to standing military formations.

    Currently the unit's official formal status is 24 Separate Assault Battalion, also denominated as 24th Detached Assault Battalion, abbreviated as 24 OSHB).

    Hence, it is by no means coincidence that Russian forces started the current military campaign on February 23–24 2022 coinciding with the end of the "Revolution of Dignity" eight years prior.


    The symbol of the Battalion is a night owl, because it is a hunting bird that approaches silently.

    Notice that depending on the illustration of the symbol (owl or trident) of the battalion, it is represented on the flag. That is: there are three (which are the most well known/used).
    1. Black background and b/w trident. This is a modern representation of the Kholodny Yar Republic, Cold Ravine Republic or Kholodnoyarsk Republic (1919–1922), which was a self-proclaimed state formation, partisan movement, and ran on the lands of the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR), in the Chyhyryn district of the Kyiv province (now Cherkasy Raion of Cherkasy Oblast), in the area of the Kholodny Yar forest tract. The village of Melnyky was its capital. Kholodny Yar Republic was the last territory in which Ukrainians continued to fight for an independent Ukrainian state before the incorporation of Ukraine into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian SSR. In fact, the logo used in the flag is the coat of arms of such Republic. The
    inscription reads "Воля України або смерть" (Freedom of Ukraine or death).
    "In the 21st century the Kholodny Republic flag was used during the Euromaidan demonstrations and by the Azov Battalion." (Sources: and
    2. Blue and yellow (based on the Ukrainian national flag) with the logo in the middle, meaning it was a paramilitary unit.
    3. Purple variant, with a white eagle, the name of the Battalion on top in yellow, and the motto "З нами Бог" (English: God with us) (below). This flag also has the coat of arms of the Ukrainian Ground Forces on the canton, meaning it is now an incorporated military Unit.

    Additional flag images are seen here:


    [arms] image by Esteban Rivera

    Coat of arms in use between 1918–1920 of the historical Ukrainian People's Republic, adapted and used in a black and white pattern, on the flag of the militias of the Aidar Battalion).

    [flag] image by Esteban Rivera

    Flag copied from the original located here: source:

    [flag] image by Esteban Rivera

    Image from the original located here:, source:

    [flag] image by Esteban Rivera

    Image from the original located here:, source: This is a flag found from the link that William Garrison provided. [Another picture provided by William Garrison, source]

    For additional information go to Aidar (official website):

    Esteban Rivera, 29 March 2022

    Donbass Battalion

    [Donbass Battalion flag] Zoltan Horvath

    The Donbass Battalion is a troop of voluntaries, who are fighting for the Ukraine government against the Russian separatists in East Ukraine. Here is a photo of the consecration ceremony of their flag in 2014.
    Jan-Patrick Fischer, 1 January 2015

    Please note that flag colours are reversed to compare with Ukrainian national flag, does it have any significance?
    Zoltan Horvath, 2 January 2015

    This battalion was established as an Ukrainian military volunteer unit (now incorporated) into the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as opposed to the "Donbass People's Militia"

    Donbas Battalion, (Ukrainian: Батальйон "Донбас"), is a volunteered National Guard of Ukraine unit subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, based in Severodonetsk. The (military) formation was established in the Spring of 2014 during the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine, more precisely through a fundraiser in April 2014 by Semen Semenchenko (nom de guerre of Kostyantyn Hrishyn) (who claimed to be an ethnic Russian native of Donetsk and holds the rank of Major in the National Guard of Ukraine. The unit has been fully integrated into the armed forces of Ukraine and re-designated as the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine.

    Semenchenko, a former Ukrainian reserve captain, claims that he and the other members of the Donbas Battalion gained combat experience in the Ukrainian Ground Forces or Soviet Army. According to him the all-volunteer Battalion was initially funded wholly by their own members savings and donations from individuals and "receiving zero salary from either the state or oligarchs". The Ukrainian Interior Ministry adopted Donbas Battalion as a National Guard of Ukraine unit thus allowing them to operate legally.

    The flag is the emblem on a horizontal yellow over blue (equal stripes) flag, as seen here.

    The emblem has the word Донбас (Donbass in Ukrainian) over the Donetsk County flag, above a diving black eagle.
    The Donbass battalion is one of such "Territorial defense battalions" (Ukrainian: Батальйо́ни територіа́льної оборо́ни) which are non-professional (para)military units compounded of volunteers and they are under the command of Ukrainian Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence created to combat Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic insurgents (and allegedly also regular Russian troops who later joined the conflict) during the War in Donbass. By late 2014 there were more than 50 of these units.

    For additional information go to:
    Donbass Battalion (official website)
    Esteban Rivera, 2 Jan 2015

    Dudayev Battalion

     [Dudayev Battalion flag] image by Marc Pasquin

    A flag used by the Dudayev Battalion, a foreign fighters unit fighting alongside Ukraine and composed of Chechen volunteers.

    The battalion is named after Dzhohar Dudayev, the first president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Most commanders within the battalion fought for the independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (1991–2000) which explains the use of one of its flag variant (during the republic existence, a version of the flag without the emblem was also used). The central emblem can also be seen on the uniform of various members of the battalion.

    Since the she-wolf is facing toward the viewer's right, I would assume it's the reverse of the flag we are seeing. Of note is the fact that the unlike most other monochromatic versions of the emblem, the circle above the she-wolf is grey rather than black.

    The Dudayev Battalion should not be confused with another Chechen unit, the 141st Special Motorized Regiment (AKA "Kadyrovtsy" [Kadyrov's followers]) lead by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic within the Russian Federation, which is fighting alongside Russian forces.

    Source: Al Jazeera English

    Marc Pasquin, 17 October 2022

    See also:   ♦ Independentist Chechen Flag
                      ♦ Ukrainian-Chechen solidarity flag
                      ♦ Akhmad and Ramzan Kadyrov flags

    International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine (aka Ukrainian Foreign Legion)


    [Flag ILDU] image located by Esteban Rivera


    [Logo ILDU] image located by Esteban Rivera

    A concept pretty much based on the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).
    Established on February 27, 2022 by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the unit, formally denominated International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, ILDU (Інтернаціональний легіон територіальної оборони України) to take part in the defence against the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, its formation was announced in a statement by the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on February 27, three days after the invasion began. Kuleba promoted the unit on Twitter, inviting individuals to apply and stating that "together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin too". On 7 March, the Ukrainian Armed Forces released the first image of International Legion soldiers in trenches on the outskirts of Kyiv and announced that new groups were being deployed to the front each day. (source)

    Some foreign volunteers came to Ukraine much earlier, in 2014, to join the fight against the pro-Russian separatists as members of Ukrainian volunteer battalions that have been created after the start of the War in the Donbas (source).
    Most foreign fighters arrived throughout the summer of 2014 (source) and on October 6, 2014 the Ukrainian parliament voted to allow foreign fighters to join the Ukrainian military (source).
    While these units have officially been integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces, some units such as the Georgian Legion still exercise some autonomy (source).
    Prior to the formation of the International Legion, the Georgian Legion was used to train English-speaking foreign volunteers. Kacper Rekawek, a researcher on foreign fighters in Ukraine, believes the majority of Western fighters prior to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine passed through the Georgian Legion.


    At first this Legion featured combatants from the following eight countries: Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland and United Kingdom (source:
    It was then expanded to include the following (40) countries: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Romania and Russia (source:

    There are also combatants from other countries, i.e. Colombia (here and here), Uruguay (here and here), Switzerland (here and here), Italy (here and here), United States (here; some even from The Boogaloo Movement/boogaloo bois, see also here).

    Different than those listed above have also participated but are doing so either individually or outside this cooperation framework program.

    Esteban Rivera, 10 March 2023 (by e-mail)

    Georgian National Legion

    [Georgian National Legion flag] image located by Esteban Rivera

    image cropped from the original located here:, (picture) source:

    [Georgian National Legion flag] image located by Esteban Rivera

    image from the original located here:, source:

    For additional information go to Georgian Legion (official website):

    Esteban Rivera, 28 February 2022

    Ukrainian Volunteer Corps

    [Georgian National Legion flag] image located by Esteban Rivera

    image from the original located here:,30.596692,3a,15.1y,241.74h,100.25t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sApqiuOtiJHK0h04YhVWe3w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=es-419. It seems that this was either the first or one of the first flags to be displayed at the "паркові алеї "Доброволець" (English: "Volunteers" park alley), since the flag shown is from May, 2015.


    Esteban Rivera, 28 February 2022